A pinboard by
Shi Ting Lee

Phd Student, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus


A fluorescent probe with great tunability for biosensing application

Cancer, a life-threatening disease arises from uncontrollable cell replication. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the death rate due to cancer disease can be reduced when cancer is detected and treated in the early stage. However, current available methods (e.g. biopsy, blood test and imaging) for early cancer detection require specialist operational skills and involve much expenditure of time as well as cost. Hence, there is a need to develop new cancer screening method that can resolve these issues. Although there are more than 100 types, cancer exhibit a common feature in its ability to replicate infinitely due to high level of telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme protein responsible to maintain chromosomal DNA length sufficient to initiate next round of replication process. In contrast, healthy cells that lack telomerase result shorter chromosomal DNA that will induce cell death as cell replication stopped. Thus, telomerase is a potential universal biomarker for early stage cancer detection. In my project, luminescent method of self-synthesized probe is employed to detect the telomerase activity. First and foremost, a DNA fragment is smartly designed to stabilize clusters of silver atoms for them to form luminescent probe, known as silver nanoclusters. Subsequently, this modified DNA fragment reacts with telomerase. An active telomerase, such as those found in cancer cells will cause the luminescent light of silver nanoclusters to turn-off. In summary, the proposed method helps to distinguish cancer cells from normal cells at very brief processing time of one hour. Manufacturing of this luminescent probe cost less than a US dollar which aids patients’ accessibility to such affordable service.